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Recorded Presentations

Conversations with Olmsted: His Visions for Reform - 1.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW)

May 18, 2021 3:00pm ‐ May 18, 2021 4:00pm

Credits: None available.

Standard: Free
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Associates: $0.00
Students: $0.00


Social justice, equity, and reform are not new topics for landscape architecture—rather, they are at its origin. Frederick Law Olmsted’s prominent role in shaping public opinion on social reform in the period leading up to and during the Civil War still impacts practice today. Join us for a conversation that recenters the way we tell the story of Olmsted’s work and origins of landscape architecture.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore conditions of 19th century cities including intense rural-to-urban migration, industrialization, and immigration, and how these conditions impacted the discipline of landscape architecture.
  2. Discover how, through his writing, Olmsted confronted the institution of slavery and the cotton economy.
  3. Explore how Olmsted’s values of and advocacy for social reform translate to today’s urban and cultural challenges.
  4. Identify how, from its inception, landscape architecture aimed to address societal and environmental conditions through design, and how racial equity and environmental justice issues continue to shape what we do as designers today.

This webinar is free for all members and non-members. Log in using your ASLA username and password.

This event was co-hosted by the American Society of Landscape Architects and the National Recreation and Park Association.

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  • Sara Zewde, Founding Principal, Studio Zewde
  • John Stauffer, Professor of English and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
  • Charles Waldheim, Hon. ASLA, Harvard University Graduate School of Design


  • 1.00 - PDH

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6/2/21 12:08 pm

Great discussion!

6/15/21 6:00 pm

Sara Zwende presented an excellent map of Olmsted's travels. Thank-you! I very much appreciate the closing point: Landscape Architecture is unique among professions because Olmsted led us to conceive design as an act of social awareness, development and responsibility.

8/20/21 2:38 pm

You could have used the perspective of a cultural geographer who could have explained why farmers did not improve soil, why they did not improve their homes, and why there were no restaurants. It wasn't just the sloth of the Southern people. There were clear, well-reasoned choices.